Boomers stress most, but not for long

The youngest boomers appear to worry more than any other age group, according to a recent Gallup poll. Over 37 percent of Americans between 46 and 50 reported they felt a great deal of worry in the last year, and younger cohorts reported similar levels of worry. The trend cut off sharply, however, among older boomers. Thirty-six percent of those between 51 and 55 reported feeling very worry, compared with 33.2 percent of boomers 56-60. Among the oldest boomers, only 28.4 percent said they felt a lot of worry in the last year.

Working boomers seem to manage their stress and worry better than those who are unemployed (which makes last week's report on early retirement more troubling). The poll didn't distinguish between voluntary and involuntary unemployment.

The poll warned that boomers may by doomed to their current level of stress. "Given the cross-sectional nature of these data, it is not possible to determine whether these same stress- and worry-by-age patterns will persist in the years ahead. It is possible, for example, that specific life circumstances of the core baby-boom group now in their 50s will stay with them throughout their lives, and that they will not in the years ahead enjoy the decreased stress and worry levels now apparent among those who are in their 60s and older today."

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